After all the glamour, the confetti and the flashing lightbulbs of the Miss Universe pageant, Miss Rathi Menon is back doing what she loves most: Caring for animals.
The leggy 1.73m-tall beauty, who represented Singapore in the glitzy competition in Miami, USA, last month, is home and has returned to her job as a pharmaceutical technician at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre.
During the month when she was away from home for the pageant, Miss Rathi, 24, missed her workplace and her pet cat, Moi Moi - a domestic shorthair she rescued - which she loves to carry and even sleep with occasionally.
She told The New Paper on Friday: "My sister sent pictures of the cat to me when I was at the pageant. I couldn't wait to come back to hug and carry her (the cat)."
It is obvious that Miss Rathi's love for animals is more than skin deep.
Expressing both happiness and sadness, she described how she once braved the rain to rescue a cat stuck in a bush near her HDB block at Kim Keat.
She also recalled how she had rescued Moi Moi from near a rubbish truck when the animal was just two to three weeks old.
She said: "She's a ginger cat, but she was really black at that time because she was so dirty, really hungry and she was alone. Her mum was nowhere to be found and she was crying for help.
"I brought her home, gave her a bath, fed her and kept her for a few days. She's really nice, so we decided to keep her."
Miss Rathi is also a volunteer at Animal Lovers League, a non-profit animal shelter at Pasir Ris that feeds and sterilises cats and dogs.
She treats sick animals, bathes them, brings them for walks and cleans their living area at the shelter, and has been doing so for the past 1 and a half years, at least once or twice a month, for three to four hours each time.
Miss Rathi said that her work experience of handling sick animals, such as cleaning and dressing wounds, helps in her volunteer work.
"I'm more than glad to share my knowledge with volunteers who may not necessarily know how to do this," she said.
"It gives me great joy to work with animals because I feel that as humans, it is our duty to help them in this world.
"The fact that they cannot speak (means that) even when they are in pain, they are unable to express themselves.
"That really puts me in a situation where I must help them and give them comfort and care, something that I really love doing."
Her job also requires her to deal with pet owners who have had their pets put down.
Once, when she was just weeks into her job, she had to console a grieving owner after her cat was euthanised.
Said Miss Rathi: "She was crying terribly. I was about to cry because I have a cat myself and I had to hold my tears back, put up a brave front, console her and take them through the (administrative) procedures."
She added: "It's really sad to see the animals fighting and struggling for their lives and (to) see the owners going through so much just to keep them alive and when the animals don't make it, they break down.
"I see that almost every time during my work and for someone like me, who is very compassionate about animals, it took me some time to keep myself composed when I'm at work. I think I'm getting better day by day."
Miss Rathi, who has a diploma in chemical and pharmaceutical technology from Nanyang Polytechnic, is pursuing a degree in human resource management part-time at Singapore Institute of Management.
She hopes to venture into human resource because she also wants to work with people.
She said: "I realised that most of us in Singapore are working for the sake of working. Sometimes, we are really dragging ourselves to work so I would love to find the right job for people so that they enjoy working.
"Like me - right now I really enjoy what I'm doing and sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm working."
This article was first published on February 3, 2015.
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